Chicago Cubs’ prospect Casey Coleman, 24, has a 3.91 ERA and a 1.232 WHIP in 11 starts with AAA Iowa this year.

That may not sound like much, but, in the extraordinarily hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, that ERA would be the fifth best if Coleman qualified. It would be the third best among full-time starters. The WHIP would be the best in the league.

So why exactly is 35-year-old retread Rodrigo Lopez, who almost certainly has no future with this organization, getting yet another start today?

“I’m committed to him right now.” Quade explained. “As I look at this thing as it pans out — take it four days at a time — we’re going to play Washington, who is in the hunt still, and we have contenders throughout the rest of the month. That’s part of the reason I want to keep the pitching in line.”

What Quade is saying is that he doesn’t want to use the rotation for developmental purposes against teams still in contention for the playoffs.

Allow me to express my suspicion that, at least part of the explanation is, once again, Quade is placing his own interests (in winning immediately) over the long-term interests of the organization. Quade believes Lopez offers him the best chance at wins right now, rather than a kid who struggled mightily earlier this year. Jim Hendry could force Quade’s hand a bit by promoting Coleman, but there’s no guarantee that Quade would put Coleman in the rotation.



Of course, even if Quade’s “contenders” explanation were the entire story, it would be a terrible explanation for at least two reasons. First, the team with which Quade opened his position – the Nationals – stand 19.5 games out in the NL East, and 11 games out in the Wild Card (behind some six other teams). That, sir, is not a “contender.” Further, while the Cubs do play the Braves, Giants and Cardinals over the next few weeks, they also play the Astros, Pirates and Reds. The “contenders” explanation simply doesn’t hold water.

Second, you don’t owe anything to any other team but your own. And, if it’s in the best interests of your franchise to let young guys get experience (or at least see what they’ve got), you do that. Moreover, it would be preferable to get them experience against “contenders” – who wants to see how young guys do against a bunch of teams who also have nothing to play for? Put the young guys out there against teams that are playing for their baseball life, and really test their mettle.

Eventually, I think the Cubs will see to Coleman getting some big league starts. Probably September. But, as with last year, it will probably be too late to really evaluate his performance – Coleman pitched very well in September last year against a bunch of fluffy teams, leading the Cubs to believe they had a solid sixth starter going into 2011. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have a broader base of experience against which to evaluate Coleman before assuming he could handle the role?




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